Stephen King’s The Stand and Me
When I was in tenth grade at West High School in Davenport, Iowa. I had this teacher for a Literature class named Mr. (Michael) Cervantes. I also had Mr. Cervantes as my teacher in Drama Class too, he was a cool guy, I really liked him a lot. Anyway, in this class, we had to read 3 books he assigned and you had to bring a book of your own, for the fourth. All four book reports were going to play a big part of the final grade.
The book I wanted to read of my own, was The Stand by Stephen King. It was a thick, mass market paperback I bought. When I showed the book to Mr. Cervantes, his normally bright face turned to a more stern look. He said, “Mike, I don’t think that is a good book to read for the class.”
(A photo of Michael McCarty in high school. Pictured here, at a Junior Achievement meeting at the Quad-City Times. Photo by Steve France)
I was ready for him to give some lecture about horror being trash and this was a Literature class and should you read some fine works by Hemingway or Fitzgearld – blah blah blah.
Instead, Mr. Cervantes said, “The Stand is a difficult book to read as an adult and more difficult for a sophomore in high school. If you want to read a Stephen King book, I suggest The Dead Zone.”
I went back Readmore Books, and saw that Stephen King’s The Dead Zone was a hardcover book with a pricetag of $11.95. My weekly allowance from my folks was only $5.00 a week. That would be over two weeks of all my money. I put on my thinking cap, and asked my parents if I could cut the neighbors yards with our mower and they said I could. I knocked on several neighbors doors and asked if they wanted their lawn mowed for $5.00 and I got three neighbors to say yes.
With the $15 I made from cutting the lawns, I went back to Readmore Books and purchased The Dead Zone.
I read The Dead Zone, I got either a C+ or C on the book report.
I would read The Stand, later when I was in college.
Both books had a big impact on me.
Sometimes you have to go out to get what you want, I think that is an important lesson I learned in that Literature Class taught by Mr. Cervantes.